WHEN   BLUE   TURNS   GOLD

Lesson # 3

I practice all the scales. Everyone should know lots of scales. Actually, I feel there are only scales. What is a chord, if not the notes of a scale hooked together? There are several reasons for learning scales: One, the knowledge will unlock the neck for you; you'll leam the instrument; second, if I say I want you to improvise over Gmaj7augs, then go to E3aug935 then to Bmaj735-well, if you don't know what those chords are in scale terms you're lost.

I used to lock myself in my room with a little cassette recorder, choose chords and analyze them to find out what they were. Like why certain notes sounded certain ways in a major seventh against a particular note. And you have to know many scales in many positions-you have to be able to move. In classical terms there is the Dorian, Aeolian, Lydian, lonian, Locrian; then you've got the synthetic scales-Hungarian minor, Neopolitan minor, super Lochrian, the symmetrical, the major-minor. And there are all the harmonic progressions, too. And you've got to know them. You can go to school, and maybe get there faster, but I didn't have a school to go to. All I had was chords, and I had to unlock them. It's not all that difficult, but you have to be ready to apply yourself, to do some homework for at least a year-longer, actually. I went through a period where I wanted to play everything in chords, so I had to find out substitutions and inversions and all that. You discover a lot of things when you do that.

Not only do you have to know scales, though; you have to know rhythm, because rhythm is of supreme importance- It's hard to say how you learn this-you can practice with a metronome or, preferably, a drummer. I used to use a cassette player, and write down random sets of chords, then play them rhythmically-6/8, 4/8, 3/8, 7/8, 5/8, 9/8, 11/8, 13/8, 21/8, anything you want. Just write out some sequences and improvise through them. Eventually you start finding chinks in your knowledge, and then some lights in the darkness.

The joy of music is like the joy a runner gets from running, and, musically, I'm running. If music doesn't carry any deep emotion, then what's it for? You find notes that are more joyful to you and you play them at a fast tempo and people will get something from it.